This post is sponsored by Barclays
A little while ago I was invited to experience the Barclays Eagle Lab in Edinburgh to get an idea of the technology and innovation that local businesses can make use of. While this was a sponsored opportunity, I was blown away by the scope of what’s available and plan to go back as soon as possible and spend my own money to complete a couple of projects there; hello laser-cut plywood furniture.
The Barclays Eagle lab is a hub within CodeBase, the technology incubator (If you’ve visited Edinburgh you will have noticed the building with its distinctive sculpted cast concrete façade, sitting right below Edinburgh Castle). They provide not only technology and office space to local tech businesses and communities, but also mentoring to help these businesses grow. The Barclays team have a variety of different skills so they can help resident business approach a whole range of challenges they face.
The main focus of the Edinburgh Eagle Lab is Artificial Intelligence. While there I met a few of the people behind the businesses they help, and was so impressed by the innovations that they’ve brought to life. I’m ashamed to say I hadn’t heard of Euan’s Guide before my visit. In short it is an empowering disabled access review guide, an alternative TripAdvisor perhaps, which lists venues by accessibility. As CEO Kiki MacDonald explained; “it’s simple stuff: can we get in the door?” although the simplicity of that aim sits in contrast to the technological challenges they face in getting the information from reviewers into a format that is accessible to all their website users. It aims to give back spontaneity to people with disabilities, so that they can decide to just go somewhere, confident they will be welcomed and able to access services in the same way that a customer without disabilities would. The team are based in the Barclays Eagle Lab and receive support to expand their guide worldwide and are working on developing Artificial Intelligence that would allow their users to more easily tell their story. In the words of Paul Ralph, Ewan’s Guide Access and Inclusion Director, “Digital technology is the most enabling tool humans ever invented.”
Before visiting I had put a little thought into projects that could make use of the tools available in the tech space and decided on some key fobs. Because I lose keys with a depressing regularity, I wanted something large, and as we had just finished replacing the roof, I had brought in an off-cut of the metal roofing material. I drew a quick pencil sketch of the house we are building (read, this project has taken over even more of my life than an episode of a well known TV renovation show would lead you to expect) and brought it along. The genius resident engineer, Hannah Cameron, converted my sketch into the necessary file and within 5 minutes I had a key fob in my hand. There’s a huge range of materials you can use in the machine (better check first for compatibility and what file format your design should be), and I’m itching to get back and make a few more things, I’m currently sketching a few small items of furniture and light fittings which I think I should be able to make from pieces of laser cut plywood.
If you’d like to get involved with the Eagle Lab, as an individual or a business here’s three ways:
They host regular events, open to the public and accessible. The calendar is here
You can book to use their 3D printers and laser cutters here as well as help from their in-house engineer. While we were visiting a resident popped in to laser-cut a bike mud guard as theirs had broken, so they could get home with a dry backside. Having never used a 3D printer before, I printed a tiny cat just for fun, and it was so simple. But the list of uses for these powerful machines is endless, whether you are a small creative business wanting to laser etch your branding onto plywood or make rapid product prototypes to gain investor funding.
There’s limited availability for small businesses to become residents and use either the private office space or co-working desks as well as mentoring and coaching from growth specialists. You can sign up and get more information here
So, with apologies to everyone I’ve already met since experiencing the Eagle Lab and enthusiastically persuaded to visit, have you been already? What would you make or how could they help your business to grow?
Disclaimer: while this post was sponsored by Barclays, all ideas and opinions are my own. “Barclays are not responsible for, nor do they endorse in any way such products. We are not responsible for, nor do we endorse in any way such third party websites or their content. If you decide to access any of the third party websites, you do so entirely at your own risk.”